Quite often, a burning issue that hits front-page news makes it on the Hindi screen as well. Summer 2007, directed by Suhail Tatari, also projects a disturbing issue: Farmers committing suicides. The intentions of the film-makers should be lauded. But there's a hitch... The film does highlight the issue quite effectively [albeit, in patches], but offers no solution to the crisis. Instead, this film focuses on the 'awakening' of the careless and carefree youth, a la Rang De Basanti.
Besides, Tatari seems to have got swayed by the script, so much so that he doesn't know when to apply brakes. The film goes on and on and on and on… there's hardly any respite in the second hour and you actually want to scream, 'Ab bas bhi karo yaar'. This one's the lonnnnnnnnnngest 3-hour movie, which tries to pack in so many sub-plots at one go.
But, most importantly, why a title like Summer 2007? How does it convey what the film is all about? What is the relevance with the issue it raises?
In a nutshell, Summer 2007 has an engaging first half, but goes haywire in the second [marathon] hour. At best it would appeal to a tiny section of intellectuals. There's no hope otherwise!
Five medical students [Sikander, Gul Panag, Arjan Bajwa, Alekh Sangal, Uvika] represent the urban youth of today. Their lives take a turn when they land up in one of the most deprived villages of Maharashtra. Their rural posting turns into a soul-searching journey where they are forced to confront their own apathy, their own fears.
Before they can flee from there, they get sucked into the whirlpool of currents. Each of the five undergo different kinds of catharsis and in the end, they have to make a choice. Do they leave the mess just as they had found it and get away from there? Or do they choose to get involved?
As mentioned at the very outset, the intentions are right, but the scripting isn't. The director succeeds in involving the viewer into the lives of the oh-so-cool urban kids, who are far removed from the harsh realities of life. The scenes at the medical college, their tryst with politics, their decision to spend a month in a village in Vidarbha… everything's going fine in the first hour.
But problems begin to surface in the post-interval portions. The focus shifts from lack of medical facilities in rural India, to the power games money lenders play, to the main protagonist finally proving to be a conscientious citizen. Wait, there's more! A love story has been woven in the plot and a couple of songs do show up as well, including a nautanki number. And also naxalites!
Director Suhail Tatari should've focused on the core issue and in turn, controlled the running time to approx. 2 hours. Also, he could've done with a better [and tighter] script. Take these instances: Everyone's out to save the life of Sachin Khedekar in the end, but what happens to him [when the boat catches fire] is just not revealed. A dying Ashutosh Rana does mention that he's safe… but how? What happens to the corrupt money lender [Vikram Gokhale] eventually? And why does Sikander surrender to the cops, when the lady cop [Shweta Menon] had already given him a clean chit?
Music is another sore point. Ideally, it should've been a songless film. Editing is loose. Either the editor had no say in the matter or he lost all objectivity while editing the film.
To give the credit where's it's due, the performances by the entire cast is the saving grace. Sikander is evolving into a fine actor. He's a complete natural and handles the most complex of scenes with remarkable ease. Gul Panag is efficient. This is one talent who hasn't got her due in Hindi films. Alekh Sangal springs a pleasant surprise. He's excellent. Arjan Bajwa enacts his part very well. In fact, he's so well restrained. Uvika looks photogenic and does a decent job as an actor.
Ashutosh Rana is in top form yet again. Why don't we see more of you these days, Ashutosh? Vikram Gokhale never gets it wrong and he's perfect here as well. But a topnotch actor like Prashant Narayanan deserved more footage for sure. Sachin Khedekar is competent. Shweta Menon leaves a strong impression.
On the whole, Summer 2007 is a good concept gone wrong thanks to too many sub-plots and a really lonnnnnnng running time [close to almost 3 hours]. At the box-office, it has no chances whatsoever!